The Hysterically Outdated SEIU Intimidation Manual.

Background on this: the SEIU was forced to cough up a copy of its “Contract Campaign Manual” as part of a court case – and it’s an interesting little document.  The whole thing reads, as F. Vincent Vernuccio notes in the Washington Times, as a step-by-step checklist on how to manipulate… just about everything, really… in the course of forcing favorable negotiation terms.  Mostly because that’s what it actually is.

Lots of people are going to concentrate on passages like this:

Union members sometimes must act in the tradition of Dr. Marin Luther King and Mohatma Gandhi and disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.


It may be a violation of blackmail and extortion laws to threaten management officials with release of ‘dirt’ about them if they don’t settle a contract. But there is no law against union members who are angry at their employer deciding to uncover and publicize factual information about individual managers.

…as they should, frankly.  But looking at the document itself tells you something interesting about SEIU: it apparently hasn’t had an original thought in its collective head since, I don’t know, about 1985 or so*.

Seriously, are these people idiots or something?  They’re using an unrevised contract negotiation manual that’s old enough to vote?  The font alone is a dead giveaway that nobody’s critically thought about this thing in over a decade and a half: in fact, the generally poor condition of the copy given to the courts as part of the case suggests that the SEIU may not even have a clean version of it in digital form in the first place.  There’s probably one kind-of OK copy somewhere in the files of the central office, and they use that to make as many photocopies as they need, when they need it** – and no, this isn’t nit-picking: it reveals a serious problem in their training system.  I’ve been in office situations where the training manuals were done once, then never ever ever corrected or updated; and, after about three years or so, new hires quickly learn to never bother with the manuals, because they’re useless.

And there’s my point: this manual may be great on walking union goons through the finer points of descending en masse on people’s homes and scaring teenagers, but it’s less than useless when it comes to controlling the media narrative.  It’s amazing that what’s supposed to be a standardized collection of labor relation wisdom does things like:

  • Provide sample “community surveys” (read: data-mining) that don’t have a place on the form for an email address;
  • Discussing “Using the Media” without once contemplating that cheap video cameras and ubiquitous internet access means that you can no longer designate an ‘official’ face of the moment and make it stick;
  • Discussing “Organizing Your Media Campaign” with the same lack of self-awareness as the last point;
  • Having a section called “Let Members Do the Talking” in the first place, when half of Big Labor’s PR problems these days involves an union member taking a slap at somebody, usually while (helpfully) in full union costume;
  • Having a section called “Researching Media Outlets” that does not have the words ‘internet,’ ’email,’ or ‘computer’ in it;
  • Having a section called “Educating The Media About The Campaign” with the same omissions;
  • Having a section called “Helping Reporters Do Their Jobs” that has both the aforementioned omissionsand the aforementioned lack of self-awareness;
  • “Creating News.”  Oh, this is the fun one! I could be boring, and belabor the point about how this section doesn’t actually tell you a darn thing about how to generate media buzz in a world where this little beauty is no longer state of the art for computers. Or I could just quote this passage: “An electronics supply store can show you the jacks and cords you will need so you can playback from your tape recorder directly over the phone line.”

…And I’m going to end on that point, even though there are two more sections that can be mocked, in roughly the same fashion as the previous ones; that bit about ‘electronics supply stores’ and ‘cords’ and ‘tape recorders’ and ‘phone line’ kind of makes my point for me.  We live in what is becoming a post-digital world; one where distributive networks have already transformed the basic nature of communication and production, and we’re now just seeing the secondary and tertiary implications play out from that.  Meanwhile, Big Labor groups like SEIU are still mired in a purely analog rut like so many reactionary Luddites, grimly pursuing a public relations and media strategy that may have worked perfectly well from 1950 to 1990… which is to say, one that is woefully out of date.  Entertainingly, this is pretty much on par with the rest of their organizational model.

I’d say ‘poor, poor dinosaurs‘ and maybe even almost mean it, except that SEIU goons like to hit peopleIn which they’re much like the rest of Big Labor, really.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*That’s my best guess, based on the old-person font and the fact that the whole thing was clearly written before the concept of a worldwide, distributed computer network had really become familiar to Americans.  It could possibly have been written as late as 1990 or 1991, but by the time I started graduate school we were already seeing things like Mosaic pop up.  Surely they would have noticed that, correct?  Or even the old BBSs?  Certainly AOL was up and running by 1993 (however you’d like to define it)… and yet there’s no noting of this new computing paradigm.  I feel reasonably comfortable pegging this as being a mid-Eighties publication, in other words.

**I base this on over a decade and a half of working in offices that had not yet embraced this marvelous thing that we call ‘PDF.’ Or ‘computer networks.’

29 thoughts on “The Hysterically Outdated SEIU Intimidation Manual.”

  1. Either that. . . .

    Or this isn’t really a manual that they use now. . . .just one from the days of yore they dug up to satisfy that pesky subpoena. . . . .

  2. Extinction, not oblivion. The fast furry mammals get to feed on the corpses of newly extinct dinosaurs.

  3. TO: Moe, et al
    RE: Heh

    Is THIS POS PDF unrecognizable for character recognition and searching the BEST YOU or the COURT can do as ‘evidence’?

    What’s going on here. THIS is the 21st Century. Not the 1970s.

    Give us something we can work with in an efficient manner. Either that or get lost.



  4. Some internal evidence is on page 7, where the story is told of a contract that was concluded in 1985. One would think they would use a recent example…

  5. Actually, most of these technics go back to the International Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) of the early 20th century.

    I’ve long thought there was a great deal of similarity in concept and execution between the IWW and the SEIU.

  6. Chuck, making sure a document is not OCR compatible is actually an old trick in capital hill, and I’m sure that comes into play for SEIU. They even do it with legislation if it’s bad enough.

    They don’t want you to be able to easily scan the document.

  7. Man that is a lousy copy – lots of unreadable parts, especially the pictures. I found a few dated items, the latest of which was 1987 (on a picture of a document) so your guess of mid-80’s might be pretty close.
    Chuckie, this is what they GAVE the court – if you have the skills to digitize/OCR and upgrade that mess, go ahead and show us.

  8. There is another possibility. Have you considered that SEIU might just have turned over an old manual to the courts, but not the current one? Did the court order specify ALL editions, or the most current edition? If not, they could have just dumped an outdated copy. Even if the court did so specify, SEIU could have given the outdated copy, hoping no one would tell the court that more current methods exist.

    It is not unknown to give an enemy just a bit of the truth, but not all of it in order to mislead him. See Maskirovka.

  9. It’s also quite possible that the old version they released is a smokescreen and the current manual is a web page they have continued to conceal. After all, “Union members sometimes must act in the tradition of Dr. Marin Luther King and Mohatma Gandhi and disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.”

    1. My general comment about the possibility that SEIU deliberately provided a out-of-date manual for discovery is: God, I hope so. That’s an excellent way to turn a little embarrassment into a serious issue. 🙂

    1. Oh, do not tell me that they were actually dumb enough to try to foist off an old manual and not expect it to get crowdsourced within a day of the story really breaking.

      1. OK, here’s my guess, based on my past office experience: there’s no updated manual. They had somebody slap together that intro from 2005 or so and effectively stapled it to the old manual (which is why there’s no copy); and they started the solicitation process in December 2010 as a result of the shellacking in November 2010, with probably an internal deadline of November 2011 (in order to have a big enough buffer to get it out by June 2012, which would be the true deadline). If this story gets legs, somebody’s going to get their ass chewed in the near future on why the damn thing isn’t written yet, just get something out, OK?

        This is fun.

  10. See the section on the second page of the second link that PapayaSF put up. Labeled “New Tactics Revitalize Collective Bargaining.” I’d cut and paste but it is a pdf image not text.

  11. Inside the PDF of the introductory chapter I find:

    /Type /Info
    /Producer (MFPImgLib V1.0)
    /CreationDate (D:20070614133248-08’00’)
    /Creator (TOSHIBA e-STUDIO600)

    A 2007 creation date?

  12. Forgot to say: Moe, if there is a new introduction to the old manual, and the manual was produced during part of the discovery process but without the new introduction, well, IANAL, but that would seem to be a big legal non-no, would it not?

  13. Oh, and the PDF file name is “DOC061407” which sure makes it seem like the file was created on June 14, 2007. It’s hard for me to imagine that they wrote a new intro, gave it an entirely new design, but didn’t update the rest of the manual within the next four years.

  14. Thanks Moe.

    The part I noticed was that they produced it “about 15 years ago” and that it “hearkened back to a different era of the Labor movement.”

  15. If you understand that SEIU has a Stalinist mentality, the above is not much of a surprise. It has a very rigid executive structure and dissent is a sure way to get fired. Office politics, gossip and PC are the only route up the ladder. There is no such thing as a better idea from an underling. Management dioesn’t want feedback on their ideas.
    SEIU is aimed at immigrants who barely make minimum wage. While there are some organizers who come from the rank and file, the vast majority of them are straight out of college.
    Many have useless degrees in subjects such as music, linguistics, etc., and can’t find work. Thus, they fall back on their political indoctrination-organizers start at about $55k inc. benefits. They’ve never supported themselves with full time jobs and so have nothing to compare with their marching orders.
    They’ll try the same “rap” (yes, that’s what they call their pitch) on a chambermaid or an person with advanced degrees.

  16. TO: Dustin
    RE: Old Tricks

    “Chuck, making sure a document is not OCR compatible is actually an old trick in capital hill, and I’m sure that comes into play for SEIU. They even do it with legislation if it’s bad enough.” — Dustin

    You’re only confirming my point.


    [Eschew obfuscation, anon!]

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